Botswana mining growth seen flat amid dim diamond outlook

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Botswana expects output from its mining sector to be flat this year, as the diamond industry loses its sparkle due to a contraction in consumer spending and weaker demand for diamond jewellery, a finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

Overall mining output in 2022 rose by 8.2%. But this year, gains in copper and coal will not offset the decline in diamonds, for which Botswana is Africa’s top producer.

Debswana, a joint venture between Botswana’s government and Anglo American Plc’s De Beers, which produces almost all of Botswana’s diamonds, registered an 8% growth in output in 2022 to 24.1 million carats. Diamond trading grew 41% in the year as Botswana also benefitted from Western buyers shunning stones from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

In 2023, Botswana expects diamond output to decline by 1%, while diamond trading growth is seen slowing to 7% from 41% last year.

“We see the diamond sector having a bit of a tough year due to an expected slowdown in consumer demand particularly in the USA, because of pressure on real income and consumption,” finance ministry senior policy advisor, Keith Jefferis told Reuters.

This will be partly offset by higher production expected from new copper mines as well as high demand for coal.

Khoemacau copper mine in the Kalahari Copperbelt is ramping up production to its nameplate capacity of 60,000 tonnes per annum, while another new mine in the same copper province, Sandfire Resources’ Motheo, is set to start production during the year.

After registering record exports last year, Botswana’s two operating coal mines, state-owned Morupule and Minergy’s Masama mine, are also looking at ramping up production to meet the current high global demand for coal.

Finance ministry estimates show that government expects mineral royalties to fall to 4.5 billion pula ($3.41 billion) in 2023, from 6.1 billion pula last year. Dividends due to the state will also decline to 11.3 billion pula from 15 billion pula in 2022.

($1 = 13.2100 pulas)

(By Brian Benza; Editing by Nelson Banya and Sharon Singleton)


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